On March 14, 2017, safety experts from across the transportation industry were invited to Washington to testify before a Senate subcommittee about commercial vehicle safety.
Along with representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) offered recommendations for improving the safety of commercial trucks and protecting other motorists from the hazards they create.
Learning about these recommendation helps us understand the risks posed by semi-trucks and how we can protect ourselves and our loved ones.
IIHS Safety Recommendations
The IIHS president, Adrian Lund, told the committee that while highway deaths increased by about 4 percent between 2009 and 2015, highway deaths involving a commercial truck increased by 22 percent.
The improving economy and lower gas prices might explain the increase in overall fatalities, but why are truck crash fatalities growing at such a rapid rate? It could be because the industry is lagging when it comes to safety efforts and innovations.
Lund recommended the following as countermeasures to the increasing danger of big rigs on the road:
Making sure equipment is in good working order.
Nearly 30 percent of all large truck crashes involved a brake failure of some kind. Tires in poor condition also contribute to crashes. Pre-trip inspections by the driver and periodic maintenance checks by the trucking company should be eliminating these kind of equipment failures altogether. However, when drivers and their employers take shortcuts to save time and money, these kinds of failures can happen.
Ensuring that truck drivers are getting enough rest.
Despite federal hours of service rules designed to eliminate tired and overworked truck drivers, truckers continue to drive when they're sleep deprived and unfocused. Planning trips and setting deadlines to maximize a driver’s potential rest time is one way employers can help truckers avoid driving when they should be sleeping. Drivers must also take responsibility by getting adequate sleep and avoiding binge drinking and taking stimulants when they're off-duty.
Reducing truck speeds.
Enforcing a lower speed limit for trucks on highways is a proven way to reduce crashes. Trucking companies can make sure their drivers aren't speeding by installing governors on their trucks, which prevent drivers from exceeding a particular speed. Lower speeds save lives.
Installing strong rear underride guards.
While rear underride guards are required on all semi-truck trailers, there isn't a standard for the size or strength of the guard. Truck manufacturers and trucking companies can protect other drivers by installing underride guards that meet high safety standards and pass a variety of impact tests.
Using crash avoidance technology.
Vehicle stability control systems, forward collision warning/mitigation, blind spot detection, and lane departure warning/prevention are all technologies available for new semi-trucks. The IIHS estimates that the combination of all four of these systems could reduce the rate of commercial truck crashes by as much as 28 percent.
The other safety leaders presented similar recommendations to the Senate subcommittee with the hope that steps will be taken to increase truck safety and protect motorists.
Who Is Responsible When You're Injured in a Truck Crash?
The trucking industry is one of the most heavily-regulated industries in the U.S., and many of these regulations are aimed at safety measures. However, accidents happen, and when a semi-truck is involved, the results can be disastrous. Unlike a car crash, which may be settled easily with an insurance company, commercial truck crashes are complicated.
Have You Been Injured In A Truck Accident?
If you've been injured in a tractor trailer accident you need to speak with an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.